Challenges ahead for NHS in Ayrshire

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil MSP, visited Kilmarnock this week (Monday 17 December 2012) for NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Annual Review.

The review gave the Cabinet Secretary and his team the opportunity to assess the performance and achievements of NHS Ayrshire & Arran over the past year, and to discuss the challenges that lie ahead.

For the eighth year in a row, the review was open to the public. More than 60 members of the public, staff and patients came along to observe and listen to the review meeting between the Cabinet Secretary and his team and the NHS team led by Dr Martin Cheyne, Chairman of Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board. The review examined progress in the following areas: Everyone has the best start in life and is able to live longer healthier lives; Healthcare is safe for every person, every time; Everyone has a positive experience of healthcare; Staff feel supported and engaged; People are able to live well at home or in the community; Best use is made of available resources.

All questions were taken from the floor on the day of the meeting.

These ranged from the management of significant adverse events, the security of personal data and the appointment system, to the support provided for staff in the public eye. The review was broadcast live through a webcast as well as being available in hospital sites across Ayrshire, Arran and Cumbrae.

As part of review the Cabinet Secretary visited the Medical Imaging department at University Hospital Crosshouse. The department carries out 220,000 investigations a year across hospital and community sites including plain film x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, ultrasound scans, barium enemas and interventional radiology.

The Cabinet Secretary heard about the changing role of radiographers and how it is being extended to take in reporting on the investigations they carry out. The newly developed radiographer-led reporting team is made up of one consultant radiographer and four reporting radiographers and they now report on 26,000 x-rays a year. This team were recently crowned ‘Scottish team of the year’ by the Scottish Council of the Society of Radiographers.

The Cabinet Secretary spent time chatting with staff about the new MRI scanner, installed in November 2011, and heard about the challenging installation of the six tonne magnet, which had to be hoisted over the top of the hospital by a specialised crane at 3am on a Saturday morning to avoid disruption to patients.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “We know that more people than ever before are being treated for – and surviving - cancer. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances of surviving. These new MRI scanners will ensure that test results are as accurate as they can be while the new roles for radiographers will increase capacity and mean that people will receive their test results faster. NHS Ayrshire & Arran has had a difficult year and while their management of adverse events was clearly unacceptable, we must ensure that the detailed improvement plan they have put in place will achieve its objectives

Dr Martin Cheyne, Chairman of Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board, said: “All our staff have worked hard over the past year to deliver high quality health standards for the people of Ayrshire and Arran.

“They have helped deliver improvements including increasing the number of people from deprived areas who have given up smoking. We have made good progress towards the target that 60 per cent of children aged three and four will receive fluoride varnish on their teeth twice a year by March 2014. We have also carried out a major review of our significant adverse event review processes and have implemented the improvement plan addressing Health Improvement Scotland’s recommendations.”